A year ago none of us could have imagined the challenges the world would face in the coming months of 2020 and the global impact the Covid-19 pandemic would have on economic activity around the globe. The first wave of the coronavirus pandemic hit the world with full force and mostly unprepared. We as a company were not immune from the initial shock.
During that first period of uncertainty in March we took decisive action to focus Zalando on protecting the health and safety of all our employees, safeguarding our business and ensuring financial flexibility. Looking beyond our own horizon at what was happening around us, we were determined to be part of the solution for the industry in dealing with the pandemic.
As a result of nationwide lockdowns, consumers turned online, requiring brands and retailers to expand their online business. From one day to the next, a strong need for digitization across the entire industry aligned with our efforts to accelerate our platform transition and put us in a strong position to serve our customers and support our partners at a time when they needed it most. The boundaries between online and offline offerings started to blur and with Connected Retail we expanded our platform to the offline world, allowing more than 2,400 stores in 2020 to sell directly to Zalando customers with waived commissions.
The disruptions that Covid-19 brought to our daily lives has caused many of us to also pay closer attention to the challenges facing people and the planet. Already in 2019 we launched our sustainability strategy do.MORE and set ourselves ambitious goals to become a sustainable fashion platform with a net-positive impact for people and the planet. In our first year we made significant progress and are engaging our partners to do the same. We view sustainability as an investment into the future viability of our business and our appeal to future generations of customers. We report in greater detail on our progress and initiatives in our first Zalando Sustainability Progress Report which is published alongside this Annual Report.
Our company achievements in 2020 are the result of the dedication and commitment of our employees, who have closed ranks in these uncertain times and adapted quickly to a new working environment. Without our frontline fulfillment center and studio staff coming into work day in, day out we would not be where we are today.
2020 was a year like no other, but it also confirmed the opportunity lying ahead of us. The pandemic has accelerated change in the fashion industry that has long been in progress and our platform strategy allows us to play a key role in the industry as offline and online segments are growing further together.
Driving long-term growth will remain our main priority and we have the necessary infrastructure and capabilities in place to support our growth ambitions. And we look forward to doing this in concert with our employees, partners, brands, communities and shareholders.
Berlin, March 15, 2021
Robert Gentz, David Schneider, Rubin Ritter, Jim Freeman, David Schröder